A short while ago, I received an unsolicited email from the interim (and soon to be departing) CAO, John Brown, with the subject, “Ideas. Observations. Musings . Opinions . Facts ?” (yes, written just like that…). Although he says he never reads my blog, it inspired me to write this post.
He wrote (copied in its original form and punctuation):
I was wondering if you might be interested in the towns (sic) recent building permits statistics reflective of highly positive growth in the tax base during the recent past ? As you are aware from your time on council our financial position has not been robust in the past however you will be glad to hear that it is now showing clear signs of significant improvement .
Last year the total construction value was 115,560 999 dollars – the highest ever I believe . I am advised that this year is tracking , potentially , higher . A good news ‘ economic development ‘ story about the high level of investment in the town based on confidence in the local economy , based on facts , might be of interest ? You can let me know and I will have them forwarded to you.
(Yes, I too wince at his inability to communicate effectively in writing, but at least he seems to have learned how to use the shift key since his last emails to me, even if the apostrophe still eludes him. But proofreading and clarity are likely overrated… just assume it’s all labelled ‘sic’…)
Now, anyone who follows municipal politics at all knows that council has little if anything to do with private building or construction (unless you’re voting for your brother-in-law’s projects). It is the work of developers, it is not done overnight, but generally part of long-term planning and investment over several years, especially where subdivisions and large scale projects are concerned. So this council cannot take any credit for recent construction. Balmoral Village, just as a single example, was approved last term, although the fees are collected this term.
Plus the fact that none of The Block have ever advocated, championed or even suggested anything resembling the whisper of a ghost of a hint of an economic policy should be considered at any time this term. Not just growth-related: crafting ANY economic policy has so far escaped their attention and grasp. Not surprising, since the collective business and economic acumen of The Block is somewhat less than that of the average anteater.
So why try to pretend this growth is the result of anything The Block has accomplished? To date their greatest intellectual achievement is a bylaw that prohibits throwing birdseed on your driveway. Everything else they have done has been utterly negative, selfish and destructive.
What, then, was the interim CAO’s motive to inspire me to write about this? Surely he knew I’d present a factual counterpoint to his spin.